Comment: Customers must dictate change

As consumer expectations evolve rapidly and are influenced by technology, lenders must keep up or risk losing business

The importance attached to customer satisfaction should be evident in any sector and requires constant monitoring. As mortgage customers come in many forms with differing needs, there are a lot of layers involved in delivering satisfaction in our market. But it is vital we get it right for all links in the chain, starting at the bottom.

Recent research from the Council of Mortgage Lenders looked at how well first-time buyers within the past two years viewed the actions of their mortgage provider. On the whole the results were encouraging, with only 3 per cent of respondents indicating dissatisfaction to some degree. This echoed 2016’s data and was a strong improvement on that of 2014 and 2015.

In addition, just over two-thirds (68 per cent) of first-time buyers were reported as satisfied or very satisfied; again similar to the 2016 figure and higher than in previous years. When combining the results into an overall weighting of satisfaction, the evidence suggests modest but progressive improvement since 2014.

Inevitably, there was still room for improvement in certain areas. Lenders scored more weakly on issues surrounding customer empowerment and engagement. As pointed out in the research, this is an area where consumer expectations are evolving rapidly and influenced powerfully by developments in other sectors, as well as the growth of technology.

Heightened expectations are also apparent when dealing with another vital element within our customer field: the intermediary community. Technology continues to influence and transform the mortgage journey for buyers and advisers. The appetite and ability to access information and transact business through smart, mobile technology are both growing rapidly.

Developing and integrating systems in a responsible manner continues to be an ongoing challenge for lenders – one we must meet head on if we are to improve customer empowerment and engagement across both direct and intermediary channels.

Craig Calder is director of mortgages at Barclays